Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Wins Squally Cape Town In-Port Race
Ian Walker & Azzam Crew the Team to Beat as ‘Sprint’ Victory
Adds to Leg 1 Triumph in the Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed entry in the Volvo Ocean Race – won the Cape Town In-Port Race on Saturday, November 15 after a bold opening move proved decisive in wildly fluctuating winds up to 25 knots in Table Bay.
ADOR was the first of the seven crews to react to a significant shift in wind in the final minutes before the start, breaking away from the rest of the fleet to start alone on the left hand end of the line. The move immediately paid dividends, giving skipper Ian Walker and his crew an early lead that they maintained to round the first marker 30 seconds ahead of the Swedish all-women crew, Team SCA.
Near-perfect tactical positioning from navigator Simon Fisher on the second leg earned ADOR a one-and-a-half minute advantage at the end of the first lap. However, the wind was becoming increasingly unpredictable. With two more laps to go, nothing could be taken for granted and the ADOR sailors had to stay on their guard to hold off the chasing Swedish crew.
ADOR began the final leg 45 seconds ahead but in the first half of the leg SCA and the Dutch crew, Team Brunel, narrowed their lead considerably. However, Walker’s decision to fly Azzam’s largest headsail saw them pull away again when the breeze dropped down to 10 knots halfway to the finish. From there on it was straightforward sailing for ADOR and at the finish they crossed the line one minute and three seconds ahead of Brunel who snatched second from SCA in the final minutes of the race.
Although the hour-long race does not count towards the overall Volvo Ocean Race score, Walker said he and crew never took anything for granted in the tricky conditions.
“We got a great start and that gave us a jump on the rest of the fleet,” Walker said. “But there were plenty of pot holes to dodge along the way. It was very squally and unpredictable out there and we couldn’t relax for a second. What ultimately pulled us through was great crew work and boat handling – I asked a lot of the crew and they came through brilliantly.”
Emirati sailor Adil Khalid said the action on board Azzam had been frenetic as the eight-man crew wrestled the 65-foot ocean going yacht around the tight inshore course in gusty conditions in the shadow of Table Mountain.
“It was a real workout,” Khalid said. “Azzam is an ocean thoroughbred designed for eating up miles offshore. In-port racing is always tough on the crew but when conditions are as changeable as today it means lots of sail changes and that is really physically challenging for the sailors.”
The ADOR sailors were joined for the one-hour race by South Africa’s leading triathlete Richard Murray, who described the experience as ‘fascinating’.
“It was non-stop action out there,” Murray said. “I had no idea how incredibly strong and fit the sailors need to be. The pace was relentless and there was never a moment to relax. From the moment we started, there was no letup in the work rate – everyone was working at 100 percent all the time.”
The Cape Town victory, along with a second place in the Alicante In-Port Race in October, puts ADOR in first place in the overall In-Port Race series. However, the team must now switch modes to be ready for the start of Leg 2 on Wednesday November 19, when the seven boat international fleet will set off on the 6,125-nautical mile passage to Abu Dhabi.
For more information about Abu Dhabi’s 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race Stopover please go to www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com. For more information about Abu Dhabi, please visit www.visitabudhabi.ae.
ABOUT ABU DHABI TOURISM & CULTURE AUTHORITY
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The authority manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programs relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The authority supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honor the emirate’s heritage. A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.
Abu Dhabi has been named ‘World’s Leading Sports Destination’ in the 2013 World Travel Awards.
- The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be the 12th running of the 40-year-old event, which started in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race.
- The race will start on October 4, 2014, day of the first In-Port Race in Alicante, Spain, and finish with one last In-Port Race on June 27, 2015 in Gothenburg, the Swedish home of Volvo.
- The 38,739-nautical mile route will also include stopovers in Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Newport, Rhode Island (USA), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France). A 24-hour pit-stop in The Hague is scheduled between France and Sweden.
- The next two editions will be contested in a new high-performance boat, the Volvo Ocean 65, designed by Farr Yacht Design in the United States and built by a consortium of boatyards in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Switzerland.
- The new 65-foot (19.8-metre) monohull racing yachts will be strictly One Design and delivered “ready to sail” for the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. The boats incorporate the latest video, satellite and content production facilities to further enhance the Onboard Reporter program that has been in place since 2008-09.
- Six teams have been announced so far. The all-female Team SCA is the first all-women's team to compete in the race since 2001-02. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is once again skippered Britain's twice Olympic silver medalist Ian Walker. Dongfeng Race Team come from China and is backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle. Team Brunel from the Netherlands is skippered by race veteran Bouwe Bekking. Team Alvimedica, the youth challenge will be led by All American Ocean Racing and carry a double Turkey/USA flag. A Spanish entry has been confirmed and the name of the team will be announced shortly.
- The previous Volvo Ocean Race started in October 2011 in Alicante and was won by Groupama sailing team, skippered by Frenchman Franck Cammas, in July 2012.
10 things to know about Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
- Our sailors have raced an incredible 20 Volvo Ocean Races between them. That’s 110,000 hours, or 4,605 days, or 657 weeks, or 164 months or 13 years and 7 months in total at sea!
- Two of our sailors have won the Volvo Ocean Race previously - Justin Slattery in 2005-06 with ABN AMRO and Phil Harmer in 2011-12 with GROUPAMA.
- Ian Walker has been a skipper in the ‘Big 3’ of the sailing world - winning 2 Olympic medals, skippering an America’s Cup team and now taking part as skipper in his 3rd Volvo Ocean Race.
- Six of our crew are married (Ian Walker, Simon Fisher, Justin Slattery, Adil Khalid, Chuny Bermudez, Phil Harmer); one is in relationship (Andrew McLean) and one is single (Luke Parkinson)
- The ADOR crew has 12 children between them - seven girls and five boys. Ian Walker and Justin Slattery both have daughters, Phil Harmer has two sons, Adil Khalid has a son and a daughter, Chuny Bermudez has a son and two daughters, Simon Fisher has a son
- In previous races sailors have lost as much as 10 kilos in weight on a single race leg! To prevent that happening this time, our Sports Science Manager Pete Cunningham has the team on a special high calorie diet and individual gym programs.
- The team’s most popular pastime when it’s not sailing is cycling, with Parko being the undisputed ‘King of the Mountains’. Parko aims to cycle about 150km a week. It will have to be in the gym from now on though as Skipper Ian Walker, with a view to preventing injury, has banned all team members from road cycling.
- Our Spanish crewman Roberto Bermudez De Castro is universally known simply as ‘Chuny’, a family nickname he’s had since he was a very small boy.
- Sailing round the world might sound glamorous but taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race is among the toughest of sporting challenges. Along the 39,000 mile course the sailors will face storm force winds and mountainous waves, frustrating flat calms around the equator and have to deal with the extremes of high and low temperatures
- Our Volvo Ocean 65 is named ‘Azzam’, the Arabic word for determination and a character trait shared by all our team members.